Previously only known from a 1910 print and unrecorded for half a century, this 20in x 2ft 6in (50 x 75cm) oil by John William Godward (1861-1922) was sold by Lawrences in Crewkerne on October 12.
Painted in 1909, Summer Idleness: Day Dreams had passed through Christie's in London in 1937 (when it made just under £70), but was offered here by the daughter of a lady who purchased it from Harrods in 1957 for £100. "The owners knew that they owned a fine picture but had no idea that its whereabouts had been unknown for well over half a century," said Lawrences' specialist Richard Kay, who estimated it at £150,000-200,000.
Dr Vern Swanson, the American authority on Godward, whose monograph of the artist's work The Eclipse of Classicism lists dozens of Godward's pictures, recently assessed the picture and declared it to be a revelation, saying that it is "one of the most sensitively coloured paintings in Godward's oeuvre". He will now include it with a larger illustration in an updated edition of his book and is delighted to learn of its existence.
Bidding last week came from two parties before it sold for £320,000 (plus 19.5% buyer's premium).
Back in 2005 another major work by Godward appeared for sale in the UK regions when Gorringes sold A Cool Retreat II for £440,000. A new record for the artist was established by Sotheby's New York in May this year when the previously unrecordedA Fair Reflectionsold at $1.22m (£787,100) to a private American collector.